FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail

40 Years On, the Vietnam War Continues for Victims of Agent Orange

by

The war in Vietnam resulted in the deaths of more than 58,000 Americans and more than 3 million Vietnamese. Twenty years ago, the United States and Vietnam normalized diplomatic relations in an effort to put the terrible legacy of the war behind them. But for the survivors—both Vietnamese and American—the war continues. About 5 million Vietnamese and many U.S. and allied soldiers were exposed to the toxic chemical dioxin from the spraying of Agent Orange. Many of them and their progeny continue to suffer its poisonous effects.

Agent Orange was a chemical, herbicidal weapon sprayed over 12 percent of Vietnam by the U.S. military from 1961 to 1971. The dioxinpresent in Agent Orange is one of the most toxic chemicals known to humanity.

Those exposed to Agent Orange during the war often have children and grandchildren with serious illnesses and disabilities. The international scientific community has identified an association between exposure to Agent Orange and some forms of cancers, reproductive abnormalities, immune and endocrine deficiencies and nervous system damage. Second- and third-generation victims continue to be born in Vietnam as well as to U.S. veterans and Vietnamese-Americans in this country.

There are 28 “hot spots” in Vietnam still contaminated by dioxin. These hot spots still affect the people who live there and eat the crops, land animals and fish.

On April 29, U.S. Rep. Barbara Lee introduced HR 2114, the Victims of Agent Orange Relief Act of 2015. This bill would go a long way toward remedying the humanitarian crisis among both the Vietnamese and U.S. victims of Agent Orange.

Representatives of the Vietnam Association for the Victims of Agent Orange/Dioxin (VAVA) have arrived in the U.S. to mark the official launch of HR 2114 on Thursday. VAVA is an organization of more than 365,000 Agent Orange victims and activists that works to achieve justice for the victims throughout the world.

One member of the VAVA delegation is Tr?n Th? Hoàn. Her mother was exposed to Agent Orange from a barrel of the chemical buried in her land during the war. Born without legs and with a seriously atrophied hand, Hoàn grew up in Peace Village II, the Agent Orange center at T? D? Hospital, Ho Chi Minh City. Hoàn is a college graduate and currently works as a computer science professional at the hospital.

In the U.S., VAVA’s sister organization, the Vietnam Agent Orange Relief & Responsibility Campaign (VAORRC), is educating the public about the ongoing problems caused by spraying Agent Orange in Vietnam and working to pass legislation to remedy these problems. VAORRC believes that the U.S. and chemical manufacturers such as Dow and Monsanto must take responsibility for the use of these chemicals to redress the harm they have caused and to heal the wounds of war. VAVA advocates for and provides assistance to victims in Vietnam, but Agent Orange victims need even more help. Through the work of activists in the U.S., Vietnam and internationally, the U.S. government has allocated some money for the cleanup of one hot spot, but has done little to alleviate the suffering of Agent Orange victims in Vietnam or to clean up the remaining 27 hot spots.

The use of Agent Orange in Vietnam constituted prohibited chemical warfare, amounting to a war crime. Yet the U.S. is still using chemical weapons, including white phosphorus gas, in its wars abroad. In addition to taking responsibility for and rendering assistance to Agent Orange victims, the U.S. government must also provide compensation to victims of recent and current wars who suffer from exposure to chemicals used by its military.

HR 2114, which has 14 co-sponsors, would:

*Provide health care and social services for affected Vietnamese, including medical and chronic care services, nursing services, vocational employment training, medicines and medical equipment, custodial and home care, daycare programs, training programs for caregivers, physical and vocational rehabilitation and counseling and reconstructive surgery.

*Provide medical assistance and disability benefits to affected children of U.S. veterans of the Vietnam War. The veterans fought for and won benefits for their Agent-Orange-related health conditions, but only the children of female veterans were covered for most conditions. This bill will equalize benefits to the children of both male and female American veterans.

*Provide health assessment, counseling and treatment for affected Vietnamese-Americans and their offspring through the establishment of health and treatment centers in Vietnamese-American communities.

*Clean up the lands and restore ecosystems contaminated by Agent Orange/dioxin in Vietnam.

*Conduct research into the health effects of Agent Orange/dioxin in the U.S. and Vietnam.

HR 2114 should be enacted into law. The refusal of the U.S. government to compensate the Vietnamese and U.S. victims of its chemical warfare would set a negative precedent for Iraq and Afghanistan veterans who need similar help.

This piece first appeared at Truthdig.

More articles by:

Marjorie Cohn is professor emerita at Thomas Jefferson School of Law and former president of the National Lawyers Guild. She writes, speaks and does media about human rights and U.S. foreign policy. Her most recent book is “Drones and Targeted Killing: Legal, Moral, and Geopolitical Issues.” Visit her website at http://marjoriecohn.com/ and follow her on Twitter at @marjoriecohn.

CounterPunch Magazine

minimag-edit

bernie-the-sandernistas-cover-344x550

zen economics

June 22, 2017
Jason Hirthler
Invisible Empire Beneath the Radar, Above Suspicion
Ken Levy
Sorry, But It’s Entirely the Right’s Fault
John Laforge
Fukushima’s Radiation Will Poison Food “for Decades,” Study Finds
Ann Garrison
Jeremy Corbyn, the Labour Party, and the UK’s Socialist Surge
Phillip Doe
Big Oil in the Rocky Mountain State: the Overwhelming Tawdriness of Government in Colorado
Howard Lisnoff
The Spiritual Death of Ongoing War
Stephen Cooper
Civilized, Constitution-Loving Californians Will Continue Capital Punishment Fight
Bruno Rodríguez Parrilla
Cuba Will Not Bow to Trump’s Threats
Ramzy Baroud
Israel vs. the United Nations: The Nikki Haley Doctrine
Tyler Wilch
The Political Theology of US Drone Warfare
Colin Todhunter
A Grain of Truth: RCEP and the Corporate Hijack of Indian Agriculture
Robert Koehler
When the Detainee is American…
Jeff Berg
Our No Trump Contract
Faiza Shaheen
London Fire Fuels Movement to Challenge Inequality in UK
Rob Seimetz
Sorry I Am Not Sorry: A Letter From Millennials to Baby Boomers
June 21, 2017
Jim Kavanagh
Resist This: the United States is at War With Syria
James Ridgeway
Good Agent, Bad Agent: Robert Mueller and 9-11
Diana Johnstone
The Single Party French State … as the Majority of Voters Abstain
Ted Rall
Democrats Want to Lose the 2020 Election
Kathy Kelly
“Would You Like a Drink of Water?” Please Ask a Yemeni Child
Russell Mokhiber
Sen. Joe Manchin Says “No” to Single-Payer, While Lindsay Graham Floats Single-Payer for Sick People
Ralph Nader
Closing Democracy’s Doors Until the People Open Them
Binoy Kampmark
Barclays in Hot Water: The Qatar Connection
Jesse Jackson
Trump Ratchets Up the Use of Guns, Bombs, Troops, and Insults
N.D. Jayaprakash
No More Con Games: Abolish Nuclear Weapons Now! (Part Four)
David Busch
The Kingdom of Pence–and His League of Flaming Demons–is Upon Us
Stephen Cooper
How John Steinbeck’s “In Dubious Battle” Helps Us Navigate Social Discord
Madis Senner
The Roots of America’s Identity and Our Political Divide are Buried Deep in the Land
June 20, 2017
Ajamu Baraka
The Body Count Rises in the U.S. War Against Black People
Gary Leupp
Russia’s Calm, But Firm, Response to the US Shooting Down a Syrian Fighter Jet
Maxim Nikolenko
Beating Oliver Stone: the Media’s Spin on the Putin Interviews
Michael J. Sainato
Philando Castile and the Self Righteous Cloak of White Privilege
John W. Whitehead
The Militarized Police State Opens Fire
Peter Crowley
The Groundhog Days of Terrorism
Norman Solomon
Behind the Media Surge Against Bernie Sanders
Pauline Murphy
Friedrich Engels: a Tourist In Ireland
David Swanson
The Unifying Force of War Abolition
Louisa Willcox
Senators Bernie Sanders, Cory Booker, Tom Udall Back Tribes in Grizzly Fight
John Stanton
Mass Incarceration, Prison Labor in the United States
Robert Fisk
Did Trump Denounce Qatar Over Failed Business Deals?
Medea Benjamin
America Will Regret Helping Saudi Arabia Bomb Yemen
Brian Addison
Los Angeles County Data Shows Startling Surge in Youth, Latino Homelessness
Native News Online
Betraying Indian Country: How Grizzly Delisting Exposes Trump and Zinke’s Assault on Tribal Sovereignty and Treaty Rights
Stephen Martin
A Tragic Inferno in London Reflects the Terrorism of the Global Free Market
Debadityo Sinha
Think Like a River
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail